Google Drive

What is Google Drive

Google Drive is a cloud-based file storage and synchronization service offered by Google

What is the purpose of Google Drive

The purpose of Google Drive is to support collaborative document creation, editing, and/or sharing in a variety of file formats (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Maps, Forms). Because Google Drive is cloud-based, documents can be accessed across multiple devices where Google Drive access is possible (desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smart phones, etc.).

How to use Google Drive

Google Drive is accessed through a Google account login. Once logged in, users have access to the online storage space as well as a wide range of applications and software. A range of files can be uploaded to the online storage space, including Google’s own software files (i.e. Google Docs) or other file types such as Microsoft Word documents or PowerPoint slides.

The most commonly used Google-based software include:

  • Google Docs: Similar to Microsoft Word, Google Docs file is an online word processor software allowing for collaborative writing
  • Google Sheets: Similar to Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets is an online spreadsheet software allowing for collaborative data sheets, analysis, and management
  • Google Slides: Similar to Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides in an online presentation software allowing for collaborative presentation and slide creation
  • Google Forms: An online survey software that can be used to create surveys, polls, or quizzes
  • Google Drawings: A diagramming software that can be used to create flowcharts, organizational charts, website wireframes, mind maps, concept maps, and other types of diagrams
  • Google My Maps: A personalized Google Map software that allows for the creation of custom maps (i.e. mark customized landmarks)

Google Drive is most commonly used in teaching and learning to share files for collaboration between instructors and students, or student to student. For example, a Google Docs file may be set up for a collaborative writing assignment. A Google Sheets file may be set up for collaborative data collection and analysis. Instructors might also choose to use Google Drive to share files with their students. For example, Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files can be uploaded to the Drive and shared with others.  

Where to find Support

This tool is not centrally supported

Help and Documentation

For help, please refer to the Google Drive documentation

Supported Tools to Consider

Tool Evaluation

Functionality overall rating: 2 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 3 stars


Google Drive can be scaled to accommodate any size class with the flexibility to create smaller sub-groups or communities of practice

Ease of use rating:3 stars

Ease of Use

Google Drive has a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and personalize

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 2 stars

Tech Support/Help Availability

Technical support and help documentation is available in the form of web pages or videos. See Google Drive Help

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


Google Drive allows users to communicate through different channels (audio, visual, textual) and allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with material

Accessibility overall rating: 3 starsAccessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 3 stars

AODA Friendly

Google Drive fully supports compliance with AODA standards for accessibility (W3 WAI), and makes it easy for materials to be made AODA-friendly. See Google Drive Accessibility Help

User Foused Participation rating: 3 stars

User-focused participation

Google Drive is designed to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities, thereby widening opportunities for participation in learning

Required Equipment rating: 3 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of Google Drive does not require equipment other than a computer and access to the internet

Technical overall rating: 3 starsTechnical

Rating Rationale
OWL Integration rating: 3 stars

OWL Integration

Google Drive can be embedded and fully integrated into OWL maintaining full functionality of the tool

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize Google Drive with any standard, up-to-date operating system (i.e. Windows 10, Apple OSX, etc.)

Web Browser rating: 3 stars

Web Browser

Users can effectively utilize Google Drive with any standard, up-to-date web browser (i.e. Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer 10 etc.)

Additional Tech Requirements rating: 3 stars

Additional Tech Requirements

Users can effectively utilize Google Drive without any browser extensions or downloaded software

Mobile Design overall rating: 3 star Mobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

Google Drive is fully functional with a range of electronic mobile devices (laptops, tablets, touchscreens, mobile devices, etc.)

Mobile Functionality rating: 3 stars

Mobile Functionality

There is little to no functional difference between the mobile app and the main tool

Offline Access rating: 3 star

Offline Access

If you aren't connected to a Wi-Fi or mobile network, you can still view and edit Google Drive files. See Google Drive Files Offline

Usage and account set up overall rating: 2 starsUsage and Account Set Up

Rating Rationale
Sign Up/Sign In rating: 2 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

A Google account is necessary to create Google Drive files and to make identifiable edits to a file. Without a Google account, users can may still anonymously view/contribute to files, given that proper settings have been set. (i.e. shared through a link that allows anyone to view/edit the document)

Cost of Use rating:  2 stars

Cost of Use

15 GB are provided to users free of charge. A fee structure allows users to purchase more storage space for their Google Drive account

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 3 star

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

Users can archive, save, or import and export content or activity data in a variety of formats

Data Privacy and Ownership rating: 2 star

Data Privacy and Ownership

Users maintain copyright of their intellectual property/data; Google’s Terms of Service specifies that Google collects personal information and other information for targeted advertising. Through Drive settings, the user has the ability to decide whether content is private, shared, or public. See Is Google Drive secure?

Social Presence overall rating: 2 starsSocial Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: 3 stars


Google Drive has the capacity to support a community of learning through both asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users

User Accountability rating: 2 stars

User Accountability

In order to hold students accountable for their actions on a Google Drive file, Instructors must ensure their students are using the file via a Google account. There are options for anonymous contributions.

Diffusion rating: 2 star


Student familiarity with Google Drive is likely mixed, some will lack basic technical competence with its functions

Instructor Presence overall rating: 2 starsInstructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating:3 stars


Google Drive has easy-to-use features that would significantly improve an instructor’s ability to be present with students via active management, monitoring, and engagement

Customization rating: 3 stars


Google Drive is adaptable to its environment: easily customized to suit the classroom context and targeted learning outcomes

Learning Analytics rating: 2 stars

Learning Analytics

Instructor can monitor students’ performance on limited measures (i.e. contributions, comments made)

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 3 starsCognitive Presence

Rating Rationale
Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating: 3 stars

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

Google Drive enhances engagement in targeted cognitive task(s) that were once overly complex or inconceivable through other means

Higher Order Thinking rating: 3 stars

Higher Order Thinking

Use of Google Drive easily facilitates students to exercise higher order thinking skills (given consideration to design, facilitation, and direction from instructor)

Feedback on Learning rating:3 stars

Feedback on Learning

Through Google Drive, students can regularly receive formative feedback on learning (i.e. they can track their performance, monitor their improvement, test their knowledge, etc.)

Security and Privacy

This tool has not been formally reviewed by Western’s Technology Risk Assessment Committee

Security and Privacy Flags


  • Users are required to create and use a non-Western account. It is highly recommended that users do not use the same username and password that is in use at Western.

Information Collection

  • Application collects information that could identify the user specifically (email address, class schedule, etc..)
  • Application collects information that is confidential (physical address, drivers licence number, health card number, social insurance number)
  • This application may use profile information and/or provided data for marketing purposes


  • Acceptance of the Application's Terms of Conditions or End User License Agreement may bind the institution to an agreement thereby requiring legal counsel to review the application contract.

Cost and Approval

  • The application may require the instructor to enter credit card information
  • The application may require students to enter credit card information


  • This application is hosted outside of Canada

Last Updated: September 16, 2020


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